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The Sammy Fund
Otte was just 10 years old when she died following a liver
transplant necessitated by Cystic Fibrosis.
She was our only little girl, and we will forever carry our love for
her in our hearts. She left behind her older brother, Christopher,
parents, June and Chuck, and many loving family members and friends.
In most ways Sammy was a typical little girl, in spite of
numerous health problems.
She had a joyful, irrepressible spirit, and a delightfully zany
sense of humor. Sam loved to swim, ride her
purple bike, roller skate, listen to the latest boy band music
with her friends, and play the harp.
in 3rd Grade
She loved hanging out with her friends and family, camping with her
Girl Scout troop, traveling with her family, collecting Beanie
Babies and just about everything Disney, especially Winnie the Pooh
& pals. Sam had a wonderful “can-do
attitude,” and a smile that could melt your heart.
Sammy was totally infatuated with all dogs, especially Dachshunds
and Chihuahuas. She
could do a perfect “Yo Quiero, Taco Bell!” imitation. She was especially devoted
to her own lovable mutt, Lightning, and kitty cat, Stripes. Sam had a tender heart, and
disliked seeing any of God’s creatures suffer. Like many children, Sammy
dreamed of all the things she'd do as an adult, and repeatedly said
she wanted to be "the best veterinarian/artist/actress ever."
She didn’t pick just one job to have when she grew up, because
she wanted to do them all!
Sam was a very animated and energetic little girl
and was thrilled when she earned a part as a swamp monster in a
local community theater children's production, vowing to be "the
best swamp monster ever!"
She loved being on stage or just hamming it up for an
audience, though signing autographs was definitely her favorite
part of the acting gig.
Sammy as a swamp monster
Chris and Sammy
Sammy enjoyed a close and strong relationship with her brother
Chris, whom she loved to tease and give "buddy-bear hugs." Only 2 years apart, they
shared so many wonderful times and had a healthy typical sibling
For instance, sometimes Sam would tattle on Chris for
some alleged wrong, but then turn around and immediately stick up
for him if he received a scolding or redirection from us!
They were the best of friends and fiercely loyal to each
Samantha was almost 3 years old when she was
diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.
She had always suffered from frequent stomach aches and
respiratory ailments, but was holding her own until she also
developed liver cirrhosis.
Only 5% of all CF children develop the liver disease also, and Sam’s
health began to fade.
In order to survive, she needed a liver transplant.
But organs are very hard to come by.
She waited on the transplant list for 21 long
months. Every night
she prayed for the person who would give her a new chance at
life, and for their family, so that God may help them go on. All the while her health was
slipping away. In
1999 she was hospitalized 3 times with life-threatening
complications of liver failure.
When it became evident Sam could wait no longer for
a new liver, her brave uncle, Tony Campbell, volunteered to go
through testing and become her donor. He was a perfect match. In Tony's understated and humble
way, he simply said, “It has to be done. I'm a match, so let's do it." He sacrificed so much to
give Sam a fighting chance to be healthier, and he’s a true hero to
us. We are forever
grateful to Tony for giving Sam the only chance she had.
Sammy and Uncle Tony, the night before surgery
In October of 1998, after being placed on the
transplant list, friends and family staged a huge 2-day benefit to
help pay for Sam's medical expenses. The weekend was filled with laughter,
love, and great hope for Sammy's better health as hundreds of people
opened their hearts (and wallets) to help Sam.
and friends at benefit
At the time, Sam had more bad days than good, and we
weren't sure how she'd handle all the attention.
To be sure, Sam loved attention, but NOT attention for
her disease; she definitely did not want to be known as "the little
girl with CF." She was a dynamo with a blond
ponytail and had so much attitude, most people never suspected that
she was battling for her life.
When the benefit was over, an exhausted 8-year-old
Sam said it was the best weekend of her ENTIRE life and "could
we PLEEEEAASE do it all over again next weekend?" She had spent the whole weekend
hugging people and soaking up the love, and we will always be
grateful for all the generous love and support given to our
family. Sammy knew she was cherished!
The actual transplant was a success, Samantha's
doctors said, but for reasons we'll never understand Sam did not
regain consciousness and died 3 days later of a brain hemorrhage. Our sweet little Sammy was
In many ways Samantha was very lucky, for she knew
she was loved and cherished. In only 10 years, Sam was
surrounded by more love, generosity, and support than most
people experience in a full lifetime.
We are forever grateful to all those who loved Sammy in
her life and help us honor her memory now.
Sam had especially enjoyed her Girl Scout
activities and camping with her troop friends. She loved selling Girl Scout
cookies and helped her mom deliver 134 boxes of cookies just 2 weeks
before she died. Every
order had Sam’s hand-written thank-you note posted on it.
On the day Sam died, one of her aunts said our
spunky little Sam was now an “angel with an attitude.” Of course, Sam’s Girl Scout
friends were heartbroken.
Sammy with fellow Girl Scouts
But these brave young ladies turned their grief
into a positive life force and worked relentlessly to spread the
word about the tremendous need for more organ donors. Their troop became known as the “Angels
with Attitudes” and worked hard to make sense of their friend’s
These girls, along with Troop Leaders Debbie Valvo
and Teresa Reichert, spread the word on organ donation and
signed up many new donors.
There’s no doubt some lives will be saved because of
their efforts. We
are so proud of them, and we KNOW Samantha is smiling down on
Sam was in the 4th grade at St. Anthony
School at the time of her death. This wonderful little school
supported and nourished Sam through many ups and down. It was a loving haven for both
Chris and Sam, and we’re grateful for this blessing in their lives.
Sammy's drawing to Tony
|Samantha was a very creative little artist
and left behind hundreds of drawings, paintings, and other artwork. We need only mention once to Sam that
we needed some new refrigerator art and she'd prolifically produce
dozens of masterpieces, all signed:
"With love, from Sam" and covered with hearts. It was her trademark.
For Sam, Jesus was an important part of her life.
She knew Him and He was actively present in her young life.
Not a single day would go by without Sam giving grateful
thanks to God for “all the blessings in my life.” It is now our deep comfort to know
she suffers no longer and is enjoying a glorious new life with Him. This prayer, written by Sam about
6 months before her death, is now etched on her tombstone:
If our lives are judged on how much we love and are loved, in just
10 precious years Sammy had a life well-lived. Sammy’s sudden death in March of 2000 left many friends and family
members with a desire to honor her exceptional spirit.
As we reflect on Samantha’s life, we
struggle to focus on the wonderful gift from God which she was. In Samantha’s last conversation
with her mother, she said she KNEW everyone loved her, including
Jesus, and that she’d see us again.
We try now to focus not on our broken hearts, but on all
the blessings given to Samantha, on all the blessings she gave
to us, and on the many ways her life goes on making a positive
difference for others.
Through the “The Sammy Fund”,
Samantha’s smiles continue to shine on the faces of many
children. Thank you for this wonderful
blessing and comfort!
With love and gratitude,
June, Chuck & Chris Otte
Web design by Collette
Sammy Fund, P.O. Box 3622, Quincy, IL 62305 Voice Mail
donations to the Samantha Otte Youth Opportunity Fund are subject
to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the Community
Foundation all of which provisions are hereby
incorporated by reference).